Perth grandmother urges families to check pool fences at launch of Royal Life Saving Society’s Keep Watch campaign

Michelle Nelson-Cox.
Michelle Nelson-Cox.

A PERTH grandmother has urged families to check their pool fences and learn first aid following the drowning death of her granddaughter.

Michelle Nelson-Cox’s granddaughter was two years old and followed her puppy through a hole in the pool fence.

The hole had been hidden by long grass, and Mrs Nelson-Cox said the drowning incident happened in the space of three or four minutes.

“Our children are inquisitive, they explore,” she said.

“The more my granddaughter learnt, the more she wanted to explore.”

Mrs Nelson-Cox said her granddaughter was an only child, whose parents had been trying for some years to have a child.

She said the pair did everything right, feeding her well, ensuring she had all her vaccinations, and getting involved with early learning programs.

She stressed her death should not be about putting blame on parents or pool owners and spoke of the bond between a mother and her child.

“When that’s taken away from you out of your control, it’s hard to comprehend,” Mrs Nelson-Cox said.

“My granddaughter is now a statistic, who’s passed away through drowning.

“My message is very clear – go out and check your fence.

“I’d like to encourage all those who have pools to go out and learn first aid.”

Mrs Nelson-Cox also said she’d like local councils and shires to do more frequent pool checks, as she believed four years was too far in between checks.

The grandmother spoke at the launch of Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) Keep Watch campaign ahead of the summer swimming season.

Her granddaughter was one of two two-year-olds who had passed away in the last few weeks in backyard pools in the Perth metro area.

“We know here in WA, toddlers and children are most at risk, and parents need to be aware,” RLSS WA’s Senior Manager for Health Promotion and Research Lauren Nimmo said.

“They think it won’t happen to them, but it happens to everyday families.”

Between July 1, 2002, and June 30, 2017, 62 children between the ages of zero and four drowned in WA.

Of these, 52 per cent occurred in home pools.

RLSS WA is encouraging everyone to follow the four Keep Watch messages – supervise children within arm’s reach, prevent access to water, familiarise children with water, and learn how to resuscitate.

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